In February at Pickwick Lake, the bass family will be having a reunion and ganging up.
In warm weather with active bass biting the Alabama Rig, you might have a 50-fish catch.
But even on cold, rainy days, I expect to catch 20 to 30 schooled-up bass suspended at some strategic places on bluff points.
The bass are in a prespawn mode, moving out of deep water and coming up to the bluff points to suspend, until the time arrives to move into the shallow water and feed. Shad also will school there waiting for warm weather.
Alabama rig ’em on the points
I’ll use watch my Garmin electronics 50 to 75 yards down the bank from the point, all the way around the end of the point and past the end of the point to look for baitfish in hopes of seeing schools of bass.
Once I spot bait, I’ll start casting the Alabama Rig with 5-inch Hartwell blue-colored Reel’N Shads and ¼-ounce heads that flash due to glitter on each arm of the Alabama Rig.
With deeper bass, I’ll go to the 3/8-ounce heads.
I’ll cast 65-pound-test Bass Braid on a Lew’s heavy-action baitcasting rod with a 6.4:1 gear ratio Lew’s reel.
I like to cast the Alabama Rig into about 10 feet of water, count it down to 5 and reel slowly. The bass usually will hit the rig as it comes off the bluff points and swims into deeper water.
On the lower end of Pickwick, the bass winter in the deeper water off the ends of those bluffs. But on warming days, the bass want to be closer to where they’ll spawn.
So, I’ll start on the main river points, and check the secondary points, just inside the creek mouths, looking for big smallmouths, as well as largemouth and spotted bass, and a good number of stripers and hybrids.
Crank ’em up on points
Next, on sunny February days, I’ll fish the main river and secondary points with a Mann’s crawfish-colored C4 crankbait, casting to shallow water and fishing all the way around the rocky and pea gravel points.
The crawfish will move out from under the rocks as the water warms, which draws in bass that feed on them.
I’ll use a Lew’s medium heavy-action rod with a Lew’s 5.4:1 gear ratio reel and 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon line for smallmouth, largemouth, spotted and hybrid striped bass.
Same lures, rods, reels on mixed rocks
The bass tend to favor habitat in February where pea gravel banks meet chunk rock, since the rocks warm up quicker than mud or clay.
I’ll fish the same two lures and the same rod-and-reel combinations I’ve used before on points.
I’ll cast the Alabama Rig into shallow water, start cranking just as the bait hits the water and swim it from shallow to deep water.
Then I’ll fish that same stretch with the C4 in the crawfish color by casting to the shallow water and swimming it to the deep water.
Suspending jerkbait on cold days
In cold weather, I’ll fish a suspending jerkbait with a black back and chrome sides on the ends of those bluffs for 75 yards from the point, around the point and about 50 yards inside the creek or pocket.
I’ll use a 6½-foot medium-action Lew’s rod with a 7.5:1 gear ratio Lew’s reel and 15-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon.
When the jerkbait hits the water, I’ll crank it down about five or six turns, jerk the bait down and let it sit motionless for 10 to 20 seconds before moving it again.
While the bait’s sitting still, I’ll watch my rod tip, looking for the line to jump or move off to its side. If the weather’s very cold, a bass will approach the jerkbait slowly and suck it into its mouth. You might not feel the strike, so watch your line to know when to set the hook.
February bassing at Pickwick means you’ll catch several species of bass and a lot of them. I never know until I get the fish to the boat what species will be on the end of my line.